The Idaho Budget Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:
Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Does the budget examine existing spending to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate the addition of new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?
Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.
Bill description: Senate Bill 1366 appropriates $27,640,500 and 263.00 FTP for fiscal year 2023.
The mission of the Idaho State Liquor Division is to control the importation, distribution, sale, and consumption of distilled spirits. The state mandates that it has control over the distribution of alcohol under Article III section 26 in the Idaho Constitution.
SB 1366 increases the division’s budget by $3.5 million (15%) from fiscal year 2022 and authorizes another 21 new full-time positions. As much as $474,300 will be spent to increase staffing levels and $983,300 will be used to renovate or add retail stores throughout the state. These measures are intended to compensate for a growing demand for distilled spirits in Idaho.
Notably, fiscal year 2023 would mark the fourth consecutive year where funds are appropriated for remodeling stores. This is not a necessary expense since the Liquor Division has a monopoly and does not need to compete with nicer private stores.
Though the state monopoly on liquor sales is constitutional, it places an unnecessary burden on the market. Government control does not necessarily encourage responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages. In fact, this budget illustrates how government is expanding itself to control revenues, not behavior.